Best Practices

5 Steps to Setting Your Product Operations Strategic Goals

With the whirlwind of personal and professional events in December, many teams are currently working to close out their year and plan for what’s next. Like so many other aspects of life, a new year brings with it a fresh chance to evaluate your team’s goals and priorities for the year ahead. 

While many companies put together well-planned strategic efforts, up to 67 percent of these plans can fail every year. Whether it be too many goals, not enough alignment, or other factors, teams may find the goals they are confident in might change as soon as the year starts. No matter what the cause, being prepared for changing plans and shifting focus is part of the game when it comes to strategic goal setting. 

In a role like product operations, setting strategic goals is a great way to help align your team to the broader company goals and vision. If you are new to product operations or looking for inspiration on this year’s plans, here are some tips for setting up your strategic goals for success. 

Step 1: Assess your available data

The best way to track a goal is to have data available that supports it. In fact, tracking metrics makes you 2x more likely to complete your goals. When it comes to goals, do you know what data exists for your team to potentially utilize? Starting with an assessment of what data is available to your team is a great first step. Do an audit of all of the tools your team uses and what data they provide. Then, you can determine which data points might help support the goals you’ve established for your team. 

Step 2: Align your data to your outcomes

Picture this: it’s December 2022, and you and your product ops team are presenting about how much work you have successfully completed this year. Most likely, your presentation will revolve around the outcomes you have achieved. So at this phase, thinking about the outcomes you want to see achieved is a great way to start to document your goals. 

For my team, we’ll be focusing on outcomes related to the product manager experience at our workplace, as well as measurable metrics around our completion to roadmap efforts, team enablement, and product adoption. 

Step 3: Draft and finalize 

Now that you have both a list of available data and the outcomes you want to achieve, it’s time to start writing. As you draft your goals, remember to tap your partner teams for review. Teams like product management, customer success, and marketing are often key partners to product operations. 

It might seem at this step that you are involving too many people or asking for too much feedback. My philosophy here is that taking the time to get the feedback up front will save you a ton of time down the line. Additionally, having shared goals and plans with partner teams helps to maintain a strong partnership between those functions. 

Step 4: Align with the product organization

Once you feel that your goals are in a good spot, share them with the rest of the product organization (and leadership team) for review. Some ways I have found success with sharing include building a deck and presenting it to the team. This format allows for more conversation and context around the reason you are prioritizing the goals you set. This process also ensures that the goals complement the work of your team, and you are all aligned on how success will be measured. 

Step 5: Establish rituals for accountability

After you’ve finalized and distributed your goals, make sure that you have rituals in place to help reinforce them. This brings a regular rhythm to reporting, and dedicated time to assessing and adjusting plans if needed. 

With all plans, you never know when a disruption can happen. If changes do come up in your plans, having a clear communication strategy as to what the changes are and why they are happening is key to building trust with (and beyond) your team. Happy planning!